With too much time and not enough Hollywood trailers to react to in 2019, American actors Rick Segall and Korbin Miles of YouTube’s 'Our Stupid Reactions' (OSR) fame decided to turn their keen eye toward Bollywood.
They debuted with Zoya Akhtar’s 'Gully Boy', and the duo’s reaction video to it was an instant hit, setting off an endless flurry of ‘please-react-to-this’ requests from white-people-opinion-loving (and-hating) Indians on YouTube. Today, as their channel with a subscriber base of 1.17 million is expanding, so is their repertoire of films, with the duo taking up not just Bollywood, but also regional cinema from across the country. Rick and Korbin let us in on their journey thus far.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What drew your interest in Indian films?
Rick: We had no clue about Indian cinema. When we watched Gully Boy, it reminded us of '8 Mile' and just blew us away. The length of time Bollywood films takes provides space for emotions, which is new for someone like me, who is used to traditional film arcs. We discovered such great cinema in India––we can’t help but keep coming back. OSR is also how I met my wife, Indrani Mukherjee Segall!
Q: Tell us the reason behind your title 'Our Stupid Reactions'
Korbin: Some of our takes on films may be totally off, hence, our tongue-in-cheek title is a defense mechanism against our haters to say, “Hey, we are just dumb White guys, we don’t take ourselves so seriously.”
Q: Tell us about a film you recently enjoyed.
Korbin: We really loved 'RRR'. Now that we are used to seeing characters having superhero-like abilities like picking up a motorcycle by hand, we could appreciate the film without asking questions on logic.
Rick: 'RRR' provided us with a festival-like experience --- it confirmed that some movies are made for practical reasons... to be watched on the big screen.
Q: What do you think the viewers learn from you?
Rick: Viewers tell us they learn a lot about films in general from us, particularly our perspectives on technical brilliance. They also say they get to hear about films from other regions through OSR, making them look beyond the films produced in their respective regions.
Q: What are your opinions on the films produced by the non-Bollywood film industries?
Rick: Malayalam films are in line with our interests––they have unpredictability and groundedness which is remarkable, like what we saw in 'Android Kunjappan Version 5.25'. The acting is superb. We love what Fahadh Faasil does. We also closely follow the work of artists like Vijay Sethupathy, Soubin Shahir, and Lijo Jose Pellissery (whom we interviewed). We particularly like Bangla films— they have so much heart.
Q: How do you access culturally-rooted films?
Rick: Mohanlal’s 'Vanaprastham', where he plays a Kathakali artiste, had nuances we did not understand. But language and culture aren’t barriers. We absolutely loved the recent Tamil film 'Kadaisi Vivasayi' on the life of a farmer––it was a rural set up but the story is human. The films are regional, but also universal.
Korbin: We were called ‘Bollywood bootlickers’ once, but we are conscious of the diversity today.
Q: In your opinion, why do viewers connect with you guys?
Rick: We are honest about what we like. Also, we can understand and talk about artistry because we are actors ourselves. We truly love India and its art/artistry, and it is sadly so rare for Americans to see India the way Indians do.